In the days when the broadcast networks reigned supreme, summer programming was regularly given over to “Failure Theater,” the industry term for unsold pilots aired as special presentations or one-off TV movies. (Sort of like what Syfy just did with the busted Bryan Fuller pilot High Moon.) These days, we just have YouTube, the magical Internet portal through which fans can catch glimpses of bizarre duds like Dog Police as well as before-their-time masterpieces like Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab’s Heat Vision And Jack or Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel’s Lookwell.
Yesterday, YouTube’s perpetually running Failure Theater received a much sought-after addition: Pistol Pete, a 1996 Western comedy from O’Brien’s former Simpsons cohort, John Swartzwelder. Previously the subject of rumor, speculation, and this in-depth article by contributor Will Harris (whose Twitter alerted us of Pistol Pete’s sudden re-appearance), Pistol Pete is now available for streaming in all of its Swartzwelderian glory. (Only he would stage a seven-way fake gun fight between a white hat and Jesse James, Billy The Kid, John Wilkes Booth, John Wesley Hardin, Robert E. Lee, and Annie Oakley.) It’s sort of like Three Amigos, with mayor Brian Doyle-Murray hiring noble buffoon/traveling marksman Pistol Pete (Stephen Kearney) to protect the skittish citizens of an Old West town. At the very least, Simpsons fans ought to get a kick out of the opening, which matches Bite Back With Kent Brockman And His Channel 6 Consumer Watchdog Unit for hilariously excessive length.